The Child in Cinema
February 2 - May 10
From February 2 through May 10, we offer a series of fourteen programs entitled The Child in Cinema, with weekly Tuesday lectures by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Professor of Film, TV, and Theatre at Notre Dame University and author of The Apartment Plot and an in-progress book on the urban child in cinema. The series is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Prof. Wojcik’s lecture.
– Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming, Gene Siskel Film Center
This series explores the meaning of the image of the child in cinema. It is not a course in the genre of the children’s film or children’s media. Instead, we will examine the function children perform in film; the meanings we ascribe to childhood; how ideas about childhood change historically, across different cultures, in different countries, and different genres; and what kids tell us about our ideas about gender, race, and class. We will consider the role of the child star, performance, and especially tears. We will investigate how ideals of childhood innocence operate in relation to images of childhood evil, sexuality, criminality, war, and other modes of experience.
– Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Professor of Film, TV, and Theatre at Notre Dame University
Admission to all The Child in Cinema programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
1921, Charles Chaplin, USA, 68 min. With Charles Chaplin, Jackie Coogan.
Chaplin's first feature-length film, THE KID also represents his first major attempt at blending comedy and pathos. Just as bold is its mixture of scrappy street life (BICYCLE THIEVES owes a lot to this film...) with dreamlike fantasy (...as does MIRACLE IN MILAN). The Little Tramp raises an abandoned boy (Coogan in a legendary child performance), but orphanage officials want to pull them apart. Silent film with synchronized music score. 35mm. Plus a short film TBA (ca. 20 min.). (MR)
1937, William Wyler, USA, 93 min. With Sylvia Sidney, Humphrey Bogart.
This Lillian Hellman-scripted adaptation of Sidney Kingsley’s hit Broadway play depicts a day in the life of a Manhattan neighborhood where gentrification has placed the haves and the have-nots in volatile proximity. The plot centers on an earnest working girl (Sidney), a struggling architect (Joel McCrea), and a gangster on the lam (Bogart), but, on screen as on stage, the show is stolen by the group of youthful actors who became known as the Dead End Kids and whose pugnacious hijinks set a pattern for movie tough kids for years to come. Other amenities include Claire Trevor’s one-scene tour-de-force role (which netted an Oscar nom) and Gregg Toland’s steeply angled cinematography. 35mm. (MR)
Little Miss Marker
1934, Alexander Hall, USA, 80 min. With Shirley Temple, Adolphe Menjou.
- Tue, Feb 16th 6:00pm
“Thoroughly enjoyable...a great showcase for Shirley Temple.” — John Sinnott, DVDTalk
The late Shirley Temple was the biggest star of the 1930s and the greatest child star ever. LITTLE MISS MARKER marked her first major role, made on a loan-out to Paramount shortly after she had signed her long-term contract with Fox, and its smash success announced the birth of a phenomenon. Shirley’s sugar is mixed with a little more spice in this pre-Code adaptation of a Damon Runyon story. Left by her desperate father as a “marker” for a bet, she ends up in the reluctant custody of racetrack tout Sorrowful Jones (Menjou) and fits right in with the mugs and thugs of Runyon’s raffish universe. 35mm. (MR)
Ladri di biciclette
1948, Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 93 min. With Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola.
"THE BICYCLE THIEF is so well-entrenched as an official masterpiece that it is a little startling to visit it again after many years and realize that it is still alive and has strength and freshness." – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Deceptively simple and inexhaustibly rich in the manner of a true masterpiece, De Sica and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini's’s neorealist classic remains one of the most influential movies in film history. A proud but desperate man and his adoring son set out through the labyrinth of postwar Rome in search of the stolen bicycle upon which the father’s livelihood depends. In Italian with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
The 400 Blows
Les quatre cents coups
1959, François Truffaut, France, 99 min. With Jean-Pierre Léaud.
"It's a cornerstone of the French New Wave, and one of the greatest movies about childhood, from anywhere, ever." – Anthony Quinn, The Independent
After winning the Best Director prize at Cannes, Truffaut's first feature did more than any other film to launch the French New Wave into worldwide celebrity. Highly autobiographical, this episodic portrait of a maladjusted 12-year-old boy takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster through highs (the Punch and Judy show, the combustible shrine to Balzac) and lows (the journey in the police wagon) before coming to a sharp stop in one of the most famous and haunting final shots in film history. In French with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen. (MR)
1962, Andrei Tarkovsky, Russia, 95 min. With Kolya Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov.
- Tue, Mar 15th 6:00pm
"[O]ne of the most beautiful films I have had the privilege of seeing..." – Jean-Paul Sartre
Bells, trees, flying, the porous border between land and water, and between reality and dreams — Tarkovsky’s visionary style is already fully evident in his first feature film. Set during World War II, the story centers on a self-possessed twelve-year-old orphan who is employed by the Soviet army as a scout on dangerous behind-the-lines missions. The film easily transcends the conventions of a patriotic war film by developing the ambivalent relationship between Ivan and his adult handlers, who both exploit and nurture him, and by its startling juxtapositions of wartime brutality and intense lyricism. In Russian with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
The Cool World
1963, Shirley Clarke, USA, 105 min. With Rony Clanton, Carl Lee.
- Tue, Mar 22nd 6:00pm
"A truly unmissable, unforgettable experience." — Keith Hennessey Brown, Eye for Film
"A REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE for a new era." — Cullen Gallagher, Hammer to Nail
Clarke’s second feature (following THE CONNECTION) was reputedly the first fiction feature to be shot entirely on location in Harlem, and it was way ahead of its time in its unsentimentalized and nonjudgmental view of ghetto life. A 14-year-old gang member needs fifty dollars so that he can buy a gun. Taking a cue from the excellent jazz score (Mel Waldron, Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef, et al.), Clarke enhances the simple plotline with a wealth of improvisational energy and observational detail. 16mm. (MR)
ET: The Extra Terrestrial
1982, Steven Spielberg, USA, 115 min. With Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore.
"This movie made my heart glad ... 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' is a reminder of what movies are for." – Roger Ebert
"A significant work of late-twentieth-century popular American art, E.T. sublimely palpates those difficult places in the human heart that make us the fragile beings that we are." – Michael Koresky, Reverse Shot
A "Peter Pan" for the boomer generation, Spielberg’s classic fantasy is at heart a love-letter to American suburbia, sharpened by the anxiety of parental separation and catalyzed by a benign alien castaway who is sheltered by a ten-year-old boy (Thomas). We are showing the original release version, which was slightly bowdlerized in the 2002 re-release (e.g., cops’ firearms digitally erased; "hippies" substituted for "terrorists"). 35mm. (MR).
1973, Peter Bogdanovich, USA, 102 min. With Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal.
★★★★ "Funny sometimes, but also very poignant and finally deeply touching." – Roger Ebert
"A charming mixture of Hawksian comedy and Fordian lyricism ... admirably served by László Kovács' marvelous monochrome camerawork." – Geoff Andrew, Time Out London
Bogdanovich’s meteoric early career peaked with this comic road movie about a small-time grifter saddled with an orphan girl who proves to be a better con-artist – as well as more grown-up – than he is. The Dust Bowl flatlands are hauntingly evoked by László Kovács's black-and-white cinematography, and the patient long takes give the actors room to shine – especially 10-year-old tough cookie Tatum O’Neal, who became (and remains) the youngest Oscar-winning actor ever. 35mm. (MR)
1972, Robert Mulligan, USA, 108 min. With Chris Udvarnoky, Martin Udvarnoky.
"Robert Surtees' lush camerawork and Mulligan's solid psychological insights make for thoughtful, sometimes even chilling, entertainment." – Geoff Andrew, Time Out London
A specialist in dark-edged childhood nostalgia, director Mulligan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, SUMMER OF ’42, THE MAN IN THE MOON) gives the mode a wicked twist in this early entry in the lethal-child horror cycle of the 1970s (THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, IT’S ALIVE, etc.). The story is set in the 1930s on a New England farm, where a cherubic boy (Chris Udvarnoky) is apparently under the spell of his evil twin (Martin Udvarnoky). Mulligan’s skills with atmosphere and period setting are especially showcased in the creepy carnival scenes. Archival 35mm print courtesy of 20th Century Fox. (MR)